A recent study has revealed that residents who live within a half-mile of fracking operations may be exposed to air pollutants five times more than the federal hazard standard. Fracking is a fairly new method of obtaining gas and oil reserves through the drilling and hydraulic fracturing of rock formations.
According to this article in the Denver Post, the University of Colorado-Denver School of Public Health data is part of a string of studies in Wyoming, Utah and eastern Colorado that highlights the impact that fracking has on air-quality.
Because fracking involves the injection of massive volumes of water, sand, and chemicals underground at high pressures in order to break up rock formations, the study found that volatile organic chemicals were five times above the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazard Index level at which there was little likelihood emissions would cause health problems. The chemicals used in fracking have been found to result in neurological or respiratory conditions, such as eye irritation, headaches, sore throat and difficulty breathing, according to the study.
“Our data show that it is important to include air pollution in the national dialogue on natural gas development that has focused largely on water,” the study’s lead author, Lisa McKenzie, stated in the article, “We are seeing indications that oil and gas operations can release chemicals that can be harmful to residents,” McKenzie said.
There is currently ongoing debate in Colorado regarding how far wells must be set back from residential areas, and the issue is being reviewed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Colorado law currently requires a 150-foot setback in rural areas and a 350-foot setback in developed areas, but this study suggests that these setback standards may need to be increased.
The EPA issued its first-ever rules on fracking on April 19, 2012. The new rules, which go into effect in 60 days, apply to the period during which a well is first drilled when natural gas is still venting but before it begins actual production. In a compromise with the oil and gas industry, EPA regulators permitted drillers, for the time being, to flare, or burn off, the gas – a process that can last for weeks. Beginning in 2015, however, drillers will, instead, be required to collect the gas and they will not be permitted to burn it off.
Exposure to toxic chemicals of any kind can lead to serious health complications. If you or a loved one has been involved in a toxic chemicals accident, the Chicago toxic chemical attorneys at Ankin Law Offices can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. The legal theories involved in toxic tort lawsuit, such as premises liability, defective product or wrongful death claims, are complex and require a thorough factual investigation and comprehensive examination of the applicable legal issues.
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